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Alcohol consumption is directly related to breast cancer: latest scientific facts

Sunday, March 16, 2014 by: Arpana Sagwal Chaudhary, Ph.D.
Tags: alcohol consumption, breast cancer risk, acetaldehyde

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(NaturalNews) The International Agency for Research on Cancer has collected updated evidence and data from recent scientific studies (2009-2013) to investigate the link between breast cancer and alcohol consumption. Interestingly, the analyses found a linear correlation between alcohol intake and breast cancer occurrence, as summarized in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine article (published 2014).

This latest article compiled and statistically analyzed the experimental and numerical data from various research articles, and the conclusion reinforces that alcohol consumption leads to higher rates of breast cancer. The main cause is "ethanol oxidation" and the resulting byproduct acetaldehyde. In the case of breast cancer, ethanol reaches the breast tissues via the bloodstream, where its metabolism generates various carcinogens such as acetaldehyde, free radicals and peroxides which increase cell proliferation.

Some interesting facts are also brought forward. For example, the side effects of alcohol can be enhanced or diminished by various factors such as age, hormonal status, nutrition and drinking frequency and pattern. These are discussed below:


Hormones greatly affect the alcohol metabolism, and vice versa. Early-age drinkers (younger adults and adolescents) are at a greater risk of developing cancer. This is because the alcohol-related carcinogens have a greater impact on the human body during development or tissue-growth phases. In the case of breast cancer, early-age female drinkers are at a greater risk during mammary development. However, pre- and post-menopausal status in women did not show noticeable differences toward cancer risk.

Folic acid/Folate/Vitamin B9:

Folate is a vitamin required for normal DNA synthesis in the human body. A review on nutrition was done by the World Cancer Research Fund, and it was found that vitamin B, or folate, can be a preventive factor for breast cancer caused due to alcohol consumption. The fact also remains that all heavy drinkers have been reported to be deficient in folate due to either decreased absorption or increased excretion. Consuming foods that are rich in folate, such as asparagus, romaine lettuce, spinach turnip greens, lentils, collard greens and parsley, is important for heavy drinkers.

Binge drinking:

By definition, "binge drinking" refers to a one-time consumption of about 60 grams of pure alcohol at least once in a week. The study concluded that binge drinkers are at a higher risk of breast cancer. This may be due to a sudden accumulation of excessive carcinogens in the body.

Type of alcohol:

There was a lack of a consistent trend between different types of alcoholic beverages and related breast cancer risk, which led to the understanding that the major culprit is ethanol. No conclusions were drawn for cancer risks associated with particular alcohol types such as vodka, beer or wine. However, alcohols containing higher percentages of acetaldehyde and nitrosoamines pose a greater risk. On the other hand, it was confirmed that spirits like red wine which contain phytochemicals/phenolic compounds, which are cancer-combating by nature, show decreased relative risk.

However, the most important question as to whether there are any known safe levels of alcohol intake is believed to be difficult to answer, according to the authors of the study. The recommendation is that women should not exceed 1-2 drinks/day. In any case, it would be wrong to believe that consuming 1-2 drinks/day is a totally harmless practice. Alcohol consumption is invariably associated with numerous damages to the human body. This study has brought to the forefront of public consciousness some of the latest relevant information on alcohol-associated risks.

Sources for this article include:





About the author:
Dr. Sagwal has a Ph.D. in Medicinal chemistry. She has worked on the drug design and discovery of antimicrobial and anticancer agents and has published peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. With a fascination for science, nature and its medicinal powerhouse, it is her passion to share and spread the knowledge from latest scientific discoveries. The information is based upon scientific experiments, facts, analyses and peer-review. We could use it to stay healthy, keep fit, prevent diseases or simply be happy.
Dedicated to all those who want to live an aware and informed life. Cheers!!

Follow her on Twitter @DrArpanaSagwal

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